My grandparents on my mother’s side were the kindest and sweetest grandparents you could ever ask for. We lived in Cleveland, Ohio during the times of these memories and made the trip down yearly after my dad got off work on Christmas Eve. This was the time before cell phones, GPS and Facebook. It’s crazy to think how much travel has changed since then. My mom would call my grandparents to let them know we were on our way, and would give them the estimated time of arrival. Obviously weather in the Midwest (and sometimes traffic) is unpredictable so our range would always be plus or minus an hour, which would make planning a hot meal hard if not nearly impossible. That wouldn’t stop my grandparents.
While we traveled down the highway, my sister and I would be wondering what were in the gift boxes sitting behind us. We would work together sometimes to try and peel off the paper to see what we got. I am not sure if my parents planned this, but they never put our gifts near us so we always just saw the gift boxes that were not the toys. Our family dog, Bubba, would be waiting in the back of our van until he could run out and play in the back yard with my grandparents’ dog, Duke. This trip would have lots of moments of joy, and my favorite was halfway through, near Columbus, when we passed a lighthouse that would have Santa waving to us. I knew by seeing that Santa we were half way there!
My grandparents would wait for us in the window, and as soon as they saw the lights of our car, they would come out and greet us. They would take my sister and me into the house to give us hugs and kisses, and while sitting on their laps and we would catch up on what we were doing and what we wanted for Christmas. Once things settled down, my grandpa would get in his black station wagon and go to the only restaurant that would be open: Arby’s. When he got back we would enjoy our roast beef sandwiches (Never with cheese though. if we wanted cheese he didn’t want to pay extra for it, and we could get a slice out of the fridge.) and then prepare for a good night’s rest before Santa came the next day.
Those are the memories I will pass on to my children and I hope that they will pass on to theirs about how the tradition of having Roast Beef Sandwiches started in the Feller household. In the years since, Arby’s has closed earlier, leaving our tradition in limbo. We still try to go out and grab a roast beef sandwich from Arby’s, but a new tradition of having a stuffed pretzel sandwich has now been incorporated! It’s a constant reminder throughout Christmas whenever we eat the 13 pounds of pretzel (with cheese!) that my grandparents are looking down and smiling. It is the small things about the holidays that make the biggest impact. So-here is how to start your own holiday pretzel sandwich tradition!
We always got our pretzel from a local bakery in Cincinnati, which is a very German town. If you can’t find a big pretzel you can use smaller pretzels and Martin’s has a great selection of Pretzilla products which can allow for the same type of experience.
This recipe will make 1 large stuffed pretzel or 30 pretzel sandwich buns.
What you need:
1 large pretzel (3 pounds is the size pictured) or 8 packages of Pretzilla Sandwich Buns
3 pounds of Angus Roast Beef-sliced for sandwiches
3 pounds of Martin’s Signature Oven Roasted Turkey Breast-sliced for sandwiches
3 pounds of Micklebury Tavern Ham-sliced for sandwiches
0.5 pounds of yellow American cheese-sliced for sandwiches, then cut in half to make triangles
0.5 pounds of Baby Swiss cheese-sliced for sandwiches, then cut in half to make triangles
30 pieces of leaf lettuce, washed and trimmed
4-5 tomatoes based on size, and sliced per preference to get 30 slices
1 pound of Hellman’s Mayonnaise
1 pound of French’s Fancy Mustard, or your favorite style of mustard
1 large cutting board
1 bread knife
1 knife for cutting vegetables, use what you feel most comfortable with
2 bowls for condiments
Now for the fun!
Put the large pretzel sandwich, or sandwich size pretzel bun on large cutting board. Use the bread knife to cut the buns in half width wise. Take the top piece of the bun and place it to the side. You will not need this until the very end.
Roll the turkey slices and place on a 1/3 of the pretzel, or put a piece of each on the sandwich bun. Continue this around the remaining 1/3rd. Then do the same with the Roast Beef, and Ham.
Once all the meat is on the sandwich, take the American and Swiss cheeses and cut in half to make triangles. Place the American cheese on top of all the sandwich, you will have space between pieces, which is fine. You will then place the Swiss cheese on these spots after you lay out all the American. On the sandwich buns, put one triangle of each on each sandwich.
When all the meat and cheese is placed on the sandwich, place the lettuce on top of the cheese to cover the entire sandwich. Then place tomatoes and onions in a similar manner to make sure each part of the sandwich is consistent.
Place the top of the bun back on top of the sandwich and you have completed the pretzel! Now take a photo and show everyone before you cut into it.
You can cut them into as big of pieces as you would like. I cut smaller pieces: ½ inch to 1 inch long. Remember that you have a lot of pretzel and meat on each piece, so your guests will not need a big piece. Have the mustard and mayonnaise available next to the sandwich and enjoy!
Here’s the Pretzilla version pictured below. You could make a colossal version by lining up all your pretzel slider bun bottoms on a tray, then top using the instructions above. Finish by placing all your bun tops over your lettuce, tomato and onion and you’ve got a great party sandwich solution!